Matt Van Buren: 'I'm the worst possible matchup' for Corey Anderson
JUL 04, 2014 10:45p ET
For the better part of six weeks, Matt Van Buren and Corey Anderson were teammates under coach Frankie Edgar as they both pushed each other on a daily basis to get better while preparing for fights in the light heavyweight division against members of Team Penn on The Ultimate Fighter.
Early on, Van Buren and Anderson had a feeling that if things played out the right way, they could be facing each other in the finale and sure enough nine months after first meeting, the matchup between the two standout fighters will determine the next winner of the reality show.
It was clear during the entire season of the show that the members of Team Edgar were very close, they all got along, and it wasn't creative editing or production to make it look that way. Van Buren speaks highly of his time working with Anderson and vice versa, but that doesn't mean they won't step into the Octagon on Sunday night and go to war.
"We got along, it really wouldn't matter if we did or didn't at this point cause we're going to fight," Van Buren told FOX Sports about facing Anderson. "It doesn't matter who it is, if they're standing in the way of my dream and everything I've been working for, for years."
“I just feel that I'm the worst possible matchup for him because he's never fought anybody even close to like me in his whole career”
As much as Van Buren likes Anderson personally, he can't help but dissect training with the former college wrestler for all those weeks on the show. When it comes down matching up skill set versus skill set, the San Diego based fighter doesn't see anywhere Anderson is better than him except maybe wrestling, but he's not afraid of the ground if that's where the fight lands.
On the feet, Van Buren believes this is a complete mismatch with his power, range and technique being far superior to anything Anderson brings to the table.
"Stylistically for me it's a great matchup. Because my jiu-jitsu's a lot better than Corey's, I was submitting him a lot on the show. My standup is light years ahead of his, and he's a good wrestler, but he really hasn't blended the striking with the wrestling yet and that's going to change in eight months. I know he's made improvements in the striking and jiu-jitsu and stuff like that and it takes a long time to get good at jiu-jitsu and it takes a long time to get good at striking and it's not eight months," Van Buren said.
"I just feel that I'm the worst possible matchup for him because he's never fought anybody even close to like me in his whole career. I'm 6'5", I've got vicious kicks, I've got one punch knockout power in both my hands and he's never been hit near as hard as I'm going to hit him in that fight. We're going to see how long he makes it, but I really don't think it's going to go too long to be honest."
Van Buren was never short on confidence while living in the house either, but since leaving the show he's only gotten better working with the team at Alliance MMA in San Diego under coach Eric Del Fierreo and a camp of UFC stars.
In many ways, Van Buren feels like working with that team he's already faced and trained against a better version of Anderson -- and his name is Phil Davis.
"Phil is just a much, much better version of Corey in all areas," Van Buren said. "He's bigger, he's stronger, and I've learned a lot from Phil. Corey's not Phil. I know what I can do with Phil."
Best known as 'Gutter' during his time on the show because of his rough upbringing and meteoric rise to the point where he's now fighting in the UFC, Van Buren doesn't plan on seeing another low point for a long, long time. As a matter of fact, he's reaching for the stars and the next road bump just happens to his former Team Edgar teammate, Corey Anderson.
"He's going to get hit, he's going to get hit hard and he's going to look to take me down. He's not going to want to stand in front of it, he's not going to want to get kicked in the leg, he's not going to want to get kicked in the head," Van Buren said. "It's pretty cut and dry, everybody knows what's going to happen -- he's going to try to wrestle me and I'm going to try to knock it head off."